Assam's National Register of Citizens: 40 lakh risk losing citizenship

The draft National Register of Citizens (NRC), published on Monday, is a document meant to weed out foreigners from Assam. The NRC was published online and is also available at the NRC Sewa Kendras across the state. Here's all you need to know about it

What is the NRC?

The National Register of Citizens contains the names of all Indian citizens. Such a register was prepared only once in 1951. The registers were kept in the offices of the deputy commissioners and sub-divisional officers.
The register is aimed at distinguishing the state's citizens from illegal immigrants, mostly from Bangladesh. The first draft of the updated NRC, released on December 31, 2017, listed 19 million people.

The Assam Citizen

The Citizenship Act of 1955 was amended in 1986 after the Assam Accord of 1985 for all Indian-origin people who came from Bangladesh before January 1, 1966, to be deemed as citizens. Those who came between January 1, 1966 and March 25, 1971 were eligible for citizenship after registering and living in the state for 10 years while those entering after March 25, 1971, were to be deported.
The 1986 amendment made the Citizenship Act less inclusive, by adding the condition that besides one's birth in India (for those born on or after July 1, 1987), at least one parent has to an Indian citizen at the time of birth. The next amendment in 2003 made it clear that those born after the commencement of the Act can be given citizenship only if one of his/her parent was an Indian citizen and that the other parent could not be an illegal migrant.
What was found?

> Altogether, 3.29 crore residents of Assam had applied for in the NRC
> Only 28,983,677 were found eligible for inclusion
> 40 lakh were excluded from the list
> Of the 40 lakh left out, 248,000 were tagged as D voters
Who is a D-voter?

D-voter or doubtful voter is a category of voters disenfranchised by the government for alleged lack of proper citizenship documents. Some 2.48 lakh people got the D-voter tag during NRC process.
Who is a declared foreigner?

D-voters' cases will be referred to the foreigners tribunals under the Foreigners' Act and if they fail to defend their citizenship claim they will be marked as declared foreigners and sent to any of the six detention camps for deportation. There were 91,206 declared foreigners as on December 31, 2017. The applicants can also approach the High Court to challenge the draft.

Who is doing the updating?

The Assam government machinery is under the Registrar-General of India. Citizenship being a subject on the Union List, the Centre is responsible for the policy decisions, guidelines and funds for the NRC update.
 

Why is the NRC being updated now?

Updating the NRC is a decades-old demand. Things began moving after a tripartite meeting on May 5, 2005 among the Centre, Assam government and All Assam Students' Union. Chaired by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the meeting decided to update the NRC. The Supreme Court got involved in 2009 after an NGO, Assam Public Works, filed a writ petition for the deletion of illegal migrants' names from voter lists in Assam.